I was in a Bible study of Mark yesterday talking about how pain affects our lives and our perspective of God’s goodness to us. We were studying the Mark 5:21-43 accounts of the woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years and the father named Jairus who needed Jesus to heal his 12-year-old daughter.
Our discussion question was, “Describe any of your own painful circumstances that have driven you to Christ. What did you learn about His faithfulness through that experience?”
As each woman shared her own story, it was obvious that some could recognize God’s goodness to her in the time but others were still struggling with God’s goodness because the pain hasn’t gone away or been resolved to their satisfaction.
Most of us don’t like to wait for God to work. And, we certainly don’t like what appears to be a “No” answer to our prayer! Be honest here. We may say to each other, “God is good all the time,” but do we really believe He is good when we get that “No” answer to our prayer? Or, when we get that “Not yet” answer?
The fact that God is good all the time is a key truth and something we can trust.
The Bible says that God is good all the time.
“You [God] are good, and what you do is good.” (Psalm 119:68 NIRV)
The Bible says that everything about God is good—He is good in Himself, and what He does is good. That means God allows nothing to happen to His children—to those who love Him—that is not for their good. God gives to His children only that which is good. God is good all the time, and He is at work in our lives for good.
We even quote a Bible verse about God working all things in our lives for our good.
“And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
But, you might ask, what about the tough things that happen to us? Someone gets very sick, loses a job, or has to move far away to another town. Is God being good then? What must be the answer to that question? YES! Why? Because God is good all the time.
Over the years, I’ve learned through personal Bible study and my faith walk that God’s goodness has three aspects that apply to our times of fear and pain. These are taught in all my studies, especially Everyday Women, Ever-Faithful God and The Walk from Fear to Faith.
The three aspects of God's goodness are these: 1) He is good even in the tough times; 2) He is good in different ways to each of us, and 3) He is good in what He allows or doesn’t allow into our lives. Let’s look at each of those.
1) God is good even in the tough times
God is the perfect parent and knows what it will help His children grow into maturity. That sometimes includes pain. Isn’t that true regarding human children? Growing up can be trying just in the facing of new things while getting used to the old. Teething hurts, but babies must go through teething to get some teeth to chew real food. Same thing is true of learning to walk or ride a bike, getting dirty – by the way, their learning it’s okay to get dirty as kids comes in handy on mission trips later in life. What about adolescence? A long…painful…but necessary time of gaining independence. Coddling prevents growing up.
God teaches His children through tough things He allows in our lives that help us grow up. Those tough times build bones and teeth in our faith. They help us learn to trust God. They help us learn to give up trying to do things our own way—which may not be the best way—and start doing things God’s way—which is always the best way.
ANYTHING that draws us closer to God and makes us depend upon Him is good for us.
2) God is good in different ways to each of us
Through reading the Bible, I’ve seen that God’s goodness looks different in each person’s life. In the book of Ruth, Naomi and her family were starving so they moved to Moab to get bread. There they met Ruth. Ruth didn’t need bread; she needed God. Naomi shared God with Ruth. Different needs met by God’s goodness.
God’s goodness will definitely look different in my life than it does in your life.
3) God is good in what He allows or doesn’t allow into our lives
Not everyone gets cancer, has a serious injury, endures long-term unemployment, loses a child or experiences the desertion of a spouse. Throughout the Bible are many verses stating how God healed someone or protected someone in a dangerous situation. We don’t even know all the dangers God is protecting us from daily! We should thank Him all the time for doing that.
Trust His Choosing
Since God is good all the time, you can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do in your life. This is the sticky part, isn’t it? Why is that? I think it is because I already have an idea of what I think His goodness to me should look like! That's true about you as well.
We are all good at praying solutions to whatever is challenging us. “Here’s the need, God. Here’s how you can fix it. Wouldn’t that be a good idea, God?” I have an idea of what I think His goodness to me should look like! We are all good at praying solutions to whatever is challenging us. “Would that be a good idea, God?”
Do you believe that God has the right to choose what He brings into your life? Do I? I know God is good. I must choose to trust His choice of how to be good to me. Remember this verse you probably memorized at some point in your life?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)
The day before my dearest friend died of breast cancer, she softly spoke to me these words, “God is good.” I finished her sentence with “all the time” because I had heard her say that repeatedly. She replied, “I don’t understand all of this.” And, most of the time, we just don’t understand. But, we’ve got to bank on God’s goodness and trust His choosing.
That’s dependent living. Human parents raise their children to be less dependent and more independent as they grow up. God raises His children to be less independent of Him and more dependent on Him as they grow up to maturity. Anything that teaches us how to depend on Him is good for us.
Dear believer, we have a big God. Yet, God may not choose to rescue you from everything that is threatening you. Or, He may not choose to rescue you from poor decisions made by you or someone close to you. You may face what seem like insurmountable circumstances in your life. You may have to give up something that gives you security. You may be waiting for God to answer a desperate prayer. But, in any and all situations, even in the waiting, you can count on the fact that God is good all the time.
That’s how we move through our pain in a trusting faith walk with our good God.
Learn more about trusting God's goodness from these Bible Studies: